I am playing a Midrange Hunter with one copy of Flare in the Un'goro Meta.

The mages in the Un'goro meta seemingly all have Ice block, and possibly Ice Barrier in their deck.

If I were to keep Flare, it would hard counter an Ice block, allowing me to kill the mage one turn, and possibly two turns earlier.

However, keeping a Flare means I have a dead card in my hand until many turns later, possibly until the last turn of the game. This could delay my killing the mage a turn or more also.

Should I keep flare in my opening hand against Mages?

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    To close voters: This is a strategy question and these are explicitly allowed here.
    – Jutschge
    May 11 '17 at 7:18
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    @Jutschge while the question does fall into the broad category "game strategy", it's extremely opinion-based. We could name dozens of arguments for either keeping or dropping it. There is no right answer except "it depends on your personal preference".
    – scenia
    May 11 '17 at 11:15
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    Of course there is an objective answer. The answer is either yes or no. It is a well defined situation, perfectly described. A pro player can certainly answer the question, as they would do one or the other. There is literally almost no strategy question in hearthstone that is less opinion based than this. The question is less opinion based than "Should I keep Golakka Crawler in mulligan against Warrior". May 12 '17 at 4:55
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    @scenia: If OP were asking for the best card to counter Ice Block (or any other opponent card), I would agree with you. There is no one right answer. However, OP is asking about a specific card, and whether or not he should try to keep it. This is much more strictly defined; and the answer, while it will always be somewhat opinion based (as most answers are), they can still be justified objectively.
    – Flater
    May 12 '17 at 7:04
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    @Fluidized Well, the current answers rather clearly suggest not keeping it. I happen to hold the opinion that's not correct and can give reasons. It's still an opinion and either answer is perfectly valid. The answer being either yes or no has nothing to do with being opinion-based. For example, "Should Donald Trump be president?" is a yes/no question, and it's entirely opinion-based. The same applies to objectively justifying an answer (@Flater). That has nothing to do with being opinion-based. For reference, here's the definition of opinion-based as per the close vote option (next comment):
    – scenia
    May 13 '17 at 11:24

The biggest success factor (in terms of deck composition) is in the versatility of your deck. You never know what class you'll play against. Ideally, you want a single deck to be able to stand up to different playstyles from different opponents.

That's not to say that each deck, including your own, doesn't have its own weakness to certain other decks. But the key is to try and minimize the amount of decks that you are weak to.

Mages have notoriously tough secrets to get through (they are the class with the most expensive secrets after all). Comparatively, Paladin secrets are a bit annoying but hardly ever a big game changer. Not saying Paladin secrets can't be good (I'm a devout Paladin player), but a random paladin secret will give you less bang compared to a random mage secret (ignoring the different mana cost).

Ice Block, as you mentioned, can turn the tide of a game quickly (or, more accurately, stem the tide of a game that has turned against the mage). Especially if you are playing an aggro deck, every turn counts. If a mage can guarantee stalling you for one more turn, that gives them the freedom to counter your plays without fearing defeat the next turn.

Assuming turn 10+; a mage that played Ice block can spend their next 17 mana (7 from the turn where they play IB, 10 from the next turn) wiping your advantage off the board. There aren't many boards that can stand up to the equivalent power of a (flamestrike)+(fireball)+(fireball)+(flame cannon). The mage might of course play different cards, but these cards will presumably have a roughly similar bang for buck.
If they play any freezing spell during their 17 mana blowout, this can add another 10 mana per stalled turn.

However, I don't expect a mage to expect a Flare. This means you can catch a cocky mage (who plays balls to the wall because IB is protecting them) and surprise kill them.

It's perfectly acceptable to use the same card differently when playing against a different opponent. This can be based on enemy class (most common) or enemy deck type.

As a mid/control paladin, I keep a Noble Sacrifice in my hand against druids and warriors, but I tend to play it early against a rogue or hunter.

Ice block is a really annoying secret. You can influence the outcome of most secrets (Mirror entity = play a tiny minion; Noble sacrifice = attack with the lowest attack minion first), but Ice block is pretty hard to influence (except for making sure your opponent has the lowest health possible before triggering IB).

I wouldn't suggest keeping Flare in your opening hand if you intend to use it lategame. But I do think it's a valid idea to only want to play the Flare against a seemingly unavoidable Ice Block late in the game.

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    Not trying to be mean here, I can see you've put a lot of effort into this answer and that's admirable, but 60% of your answer basically explain why Flare is good in this matchup, which is relevant for including it in the deck, but that's already decided as per the question. The next 30% are about unrelated classes and matchups. The last paragraph is the only thing that's relevant to the question and it contradicts the premise of wanting to use it to catch them off guard since not keeping it means never drawing it again in 2 out of 3 games.
    – scenia
    May 16 '17 at 8:09
  • @scenia OP is asking about keeping a card to counter a specific play. I am not telling OP to roll the dice and hope to redraw the card after mulliganing (which is subjective, as you've been repeating). I am merely stating the consequences of either having a Flare in hand, or not having a Flare in hand. It is up to OP to decide how much he wants to avoid not having a Flare in his hand, and how much he thinks the Flare will benefit him in the end. Are you now suggesting that I add my opinion about whether or not to play the odds? Because that would be subjective.
    – Flater
    May 16 '17 at 8:20
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    @Flater the only thing you're saying about Flare is "I wouldn't suggest keeping Flare". Sounds to me like you're telling him to roll the dice. Which is fine, your opinion is required if you want to properly answer the question (which is why the question is opinion-based).
    – scenia
    May 17 '17 at 7:08

It depends if you run 2 copies, which i would not recommend in the current meta. So I asume you run 1.

Do you play to play it in your first 4 turns? Probably not, since you want flare to get rid of ice-block and kill the enemy in most cases.

I you keep it in your mulligan, you have a useless card in your hand for a looooong time.

You want to draw into it.

I guess an exception could be, you have the coin and a perfect cruve with good minions.

  • What would be different if OP ran 2 copies?
    – scenia
    May 12 '17 at 4:41
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    @scenia: I'm not the poster, but trying to comment anyway: when you run two copies, the odds of drawing into this card roughly doubles (it's an oversimplification but accurate enough for the explanation). This dramatically changes whether or not you want to mulligan the card. If it's much more likely that you'll draw it by the time you need it anyway (OP is asking about using it lategame, and will have many draw chances), you will be more inclined to mulligan the card.
    – Flater
    May 12 '17 at 7:08
  • @Flater exactly what I would have written. thank you! Do add something: you could use the first copy to draw a card and destroy any secret. Because normalyy you use flare to specifically get rid of ice-block, which you can still do with a 2nd copy. May 12 '17 at 10:26
  • @DropDeadSander-EUW: What you added is completely true, but it seems a bit too unlikely for a player to base his strategy on getting the exact card with one extra draw (if he drew it earlier anyway, he didn't need the extra draw). It is a good auxiliary chance to win, but not the basis for a strategy, imo :)
    – Flater
    May 12 '17 at 10:52
  • @Flater that's not what I meant May 12 '17 at 11:46

When you're playing Midrange Hunter, your goal is to win the game before reaching the late game, which usually starts around 10 mana. The deck is in essence a fast deck with viable late game options to secure a win even in longer games. The typical win will occurs around turns 6-12.

Mage decks tend to lean towards longer games in general. Many of their tools are delaying the game, especially the Ice Blocks. While there are different possible decks, they all aim to stabilize early and keep the board under control until they reach a point where they can get ahead and seal the deal. They will usually attempt to go for the win around the beginning of the late game in turns 8-15.

As you can see in this comparison, Hunter is the faster deck most of the time. The correct way to play this matchup to maximize your winning chance is thus to take the aggro role and aim for a quick game, while the Mage will take the control role and try to delay the game as much as possible. The main tool for this purpose is Ice Block, and you will want to counter the Ice Block consistently because even a single delayed turn might turn your victory into a defeat in this setting.

Mulliganing the Flare (your only Ice Block counter) means there will be a 61-63% chance (depending on coin) that you won't draw into it again by turn 10. By contrast, the Mage has a very high chance of drawing into Ice Block either directly or through Arcanologist and random Spell generation.

The downside of keeping Flare is that you have basically one fewer card in your hand for the entire game (since you'll play Flare in your winning turn). This means you will run out of cards to play more quickly, assuming the game runs long enough. However, Midrange Hunter typically plays a rather high curve, so running out of cards will only happen around turns 8-10 or later. At this point, if you haven't won against the Mage yet, you're in a tough spot anyway.

Since you have no way of getting around Ice Block without Flare and your goal is to win as quickly as possible before the Mage stabilizes and overwhelms you (or draws into his combo, depending on the exact deck), running out of steam is not a concern and you should keep Flare so you can end the game on your terms 100% of the time rather than in a measly 38% of games.

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